There’s something I used to do all the time when I was in my early 20’s.
I called it my integrity tracker.
I started it because I was struggling with a lot of lifestyle habits that weren’t supporting me, and even though I knew that, I continued to do them.
Somehow, I thought writing them down in a notebook would help.
It was pretty simple.
I used a quick and easy system of plus and minus signs.
The Integrity Tracker
At the end of each day, I would write down all the things I did that day (or things that happened that day) that I considered to be positive or life-enhancing. I put a plus sign (+) next to each one.
+ went for a run
+ talked to my mom on the phone
+ had a fun lunch with my co-workers
+ ate a delicious salad
+ drank a lot of water
+ made 2 sales at work
+ helped my friend move her couch
And then I would list the things that happened that day that I considered to be negative or not life-enhancing, or behaviors I would like to change, with a minus sign (-) next to each.
– snapped at my roommate
– slept in past my alarm
– drank too much coffee
– stayed up too late
– skipped my workout
– watched TV instead of finishing my project
– overate at dinner until my stomach hurt
Stuff like that.
The interesting thing was, the more I did this exercise daily, the more I saw the exact same things continue to pop up over and over and over – in the positive and in the negative.
What I learned
I learned a lot about what I considered to be positive in my life, and could see a tangible list of things I could continue to do to feel good and happy.
At some point I started to get sick of the same things showing up over and over in the minus category, and eventually I would stop doing some of them just so I didn’t have to keep writing them down.
Why I called it the Integrity Tracker
I called my little system “the integrity tracker” because it was all based on how I personally felt about each thing that happened in my day. The PLUS list showed me what I was doing in a day that matched up with my own integrity, my own values. It wasn’t something that someone could dictate to me. It was just the things in the day that I personally felt good about.
And the things on the minus list were always things I was doing that didn’t align with my true values, my true integrity. It was a list of things that I simply didn’t feel personally great about.
This integrity tracker was not meant to induce guilt or shame about the “minus list” – in fact, writing them down in this way actually made it feel less emotional, more like a math problem. More like a recipe.
Developing My Recipe For Life
I started to realize – if I put certain things into my life recipe, I’ll feel great. If I put others into my life recipe, I won’t feel as great. I can choose to feel better or worse based on the frequency that I participate in the plus activities/actions vs. the minus activities/actions.
If you put delicious, fresh, high quality ingredients into your recipe, you’ll feel much more alive than if you put in low quality, old ingredients.
And only you can decipher which ingredients will be aligned with YOUR values, your integrity.
This exercise really helped me learn a lot about myself that I wouldn’t have known without getting it onto the paper.
Along the way, I loved this concept so much, I named my blog in 2009 (before I created Healthy Crush), Recipe For Life, with the tagline “what’s in yours?” See more of my blogging journey here.
“Let’s pretend my life is the perfect meal. I don’t want to add crappy, damaging ingredients, because it will come out all wrong and it will taste horrible. I only want to add ingredients that will create a delicious, beautiful meal that is deserving of my respect.”
I just loved that.
A life deserving of my respect. And showcasing my own integrity. Knowing that my actions are in line with my truest values.
And knowing that when they aren’t, I can make a note of it – without guilt, only curiosity and experimentation – and I can work to change it – if and when I want to. If and when I want to taste that new recipe. The one with a little more flavor.
Nothing feels better than waking up with integrity.
Try it. :)